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Forestry rights sold to US firm

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 11:16 16/05/2014

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Cutting rights to a large Wellington forestry estate have been sold to US company Resource Management Service (RMS).

Described as one of the largest forestry transactions to hit the open market in recent years, the rights give access to Greater Wellington Regional Council's 5430-hectare forestry estate near Wellington and in the Wairarapa.

The sale price was undisclosed but LJ Hooker agent Warwick Searle, who handled the sale, said the valuation on the cutting rights was $28.5 million.

He was "very happy" with the figure which exceeded the $31m debt that the council had incurred over the years managing the forests.

The tender process also showed there was "plenty of offshore interest" for forestry assets.

"We're definitely seeing buyer demand from the US and Europe matching or even surpassing the high level of interest coming from Asia."

The deal gives RMS cutting rights to nine forestry blocks in the Wellington "metro" area and three in the Wairarapa for at least 60 years from July 1.

The council will retain ownership of the land and proceeds will be used to repay debt and for other purposes yet to be decided.

The 12 forests are based in the Akatarawa Saddle, Hukinga, Mangaroa, Maungakotukutuku, Pakuratahi East, Pakuratahi West, Puketiro, Valley View and Whakatikei in the Wellington "metro" area, and Hiwinui, Stoney Creek and Tauanui in the Wairarapa.

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